Reversing the Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation is common on most college campuses because of multiple factors that keep them busy, from sports, taking up most of their time, to having challenging majors.  Coffee is the most common way students fight drowsiness from sleepless nights, but often it also reverses other effects that sleep deprivation has on the body. Research (Grassi et al., 2016) has shown that sleep deprivation negatively impacts memory, which can affect academic performance. Sleep deprivation also changes the way blood flows and as a result the chances of obtaining diseases such as type 2 diabetes will increase. There has also been research showing that these impacts can be prevented or reversed. One would assume these would all be solved by sleep, but that is not the only way. There are many different ways a person can reverse the effect of sleep deprivation. Throughout, I will discuss the ways in which a person can fight off effects of sleep deprivation.


When a person is chronically deprived of sleep, it can cause a serious disease. This disease is called sleep deprivation in which one experiences extreme drowsiness during daytime hours. This disease can also increase glucose and insulin levels by lowering the levels of plasma in the leptin hormone, which helps to regulate energy balance by stopping you from feeling hungry (Rasaei et al., 2016).  The antagonistic hormone that makes you feel hungry (ghrelin) is also affected by plasma levels. In result, these hormones impact the levels of glucose, causing them to rise. This disease is said to affect people short term and long term. Due to glucose levels raising as often as they would, the chances of becoming a type 2 diabetic will increase. (Rasaei et al., 2016). One other bodily function that sleep deprivation has on the body is harming the pathways in which blood flows through the body. The endothelium is the tissue that lines the blood vessels as well as other organs in the body. This area in the body can contract (vasoconstriction) or enlarge (vasodilation) causing endothelial dysfunctions. This would result in an imbalance of blood flow. With the rate of blood flow not being normal, hypertension occurs in which blood pressure is abnormally high (Grassi et al., 2016). Additionally, there are cognitive consequences to being sleep deprived. With supporting evidence, it was discovered that without enough sleep certain parts of the brain, mainly the prefrontal cortex that controls brains emotions and behaviors (Grassi et al., 2016).

While many would assume that getting more sleep would reverse these potentially dangerous diseases, there are ways to treat sleep deprivation with just a change in diet. One of those treatments is eating flavanol-rich chocolate. Flavonoids are found in plants and are put in dark chocolate and cocoa. This compound is helpful when it comes to sleep deprivation because of its direct effect on blood pressure. Flavonoids contain endothelium-dependent vasodilation. This in-turn, acts as regulators for a normal flow of blood throughout the body. In the same study, the discovery was found that flavanol-rich chocolate helps those participants who had controlled sleep with their memory accuracy. They tested in the 2-back activity; a commonly used task to measure peoples working memory. These participants were the ones selected to stay awake all day, limited to certain activities such as short walks and using the computer. It was concluded that flavanol-rich chocolate has the ability to reverse the negative effects that sleep deprivation has on a person’s body (Grassi et al., 2016).


Caffeine can also be used as a treatment option for sleep deprivation. Most people take in caffeine in the form of coffee, which is the most common form that college students use for extra energy during the day. What they do not know is that drinking caffeinated and even non-caffeinated drinks can reverse the chances of a person developing type 2 diabetes. This information was concluded during a study where scientist found that drinking caffeinated coffee, compared to boiled water and decaffeinated increases insulin levels after being measured 2 hours later with an oral glucose tolerance test or OGTT (test done to diagnose instances of diabetes) (Rasaei et al., 2016).

Overall, there are at least two ways in which people and specifically busy college students can reverse the effects of sleep deprivation. With advice from this article, people are now able to manipulate their diet in a way that does not drastically change the way they eat or drink. Also because of these findings, they are able to stay away from cognitive defects, blood flow dysfunctions, as well as deadly diseases. I hope that as time goes by, there will be more and more discoveries of how to reverse the negative effects of sleep deprivation.